James Herbert “Jim” Bailey, who previously worked as Tokyo Weekender’s entertainment editor for more than two decades during the 70s and 80s, passed away in Seattle at age 71 on August 24. He had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the beginning of this year and treatment proved futile. He is survived by his wife, Yurika, son, Chris, and daughter, Chelsea.
Born in 1946 in Bryan, Texas, Bailey spent his teens in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he graduated from high school. He then matriculated at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. While still in university he first visited his family in Japan, where his father, an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense, was assigned to 5th Air Force Headquarters at Fuchu Air Station in west Tokyo.
A Priceless Source of Information
Bailey became a TW regular from the mid-1970s and was part of a lineup of talented contributors that included Bob Cutts, Bill Hersey, Carl Hansen (a.k.a. Danny Callaghan and W. Somerset Watanabe), Joan Itoh and Wayne Grazyck. In addition to his long-running column in TW (find examples of Jim’s columns here and here), Bailey produced a monthly grab bag column for Winds, JAL’s in-flight magazine, and also worked as a correspondent for Variety magazine covering Japan’s entertainment industry.
While his keen insights and biting humor made his writings popular with the local foreign community, Bailey also networked closely with members of his profession on topics of mutual interest. He was unfailingly generous with his time and his knowledge, which made him a priceless source of useful material for other Japan-based journalists.
Bailey was also this writer’s near-neighbor in Setagaya for well over a decade, and we regularly talked by telephone or dined together over an Indian meal, reminiscing about our youth in the American Southwest or the good old days in Tokyo in the 1960s, or anything else that came to mind.
“One of the Good Ones”
In an e-mail, Susan (Scully) Wagner, who co-founded Tokyo Weekender with Corky Alexander in February 1970, recalled her encounters with Jim.
“Jim was one of the ‘good’ ones. Whenever we bumped into each other – typically at the Press Club – I could always anticipate grabbing a chair and a table and having a warm and lively conversation. His movie reviews were always a treat. And he fit Japan so well. He was in perfect synch with the people and the culture and the life.
“I’m sad to know that he’s gone, but I’m gladdened by the fact that he could spend his later years in a spot as lovely as Mercer Island, Washington. Love, thoughts, and prayers to his family and to his wide circle of friends.”
Sharp Mind and Sharp Wit
People who knew Bailey personally will also recall his prodigious memory for facts and almost instant recall. During his senior year at Colorado College he was a member of a team that defeated two rival schools on the nationally broadcast General Electric College Bowl quiz program.
Certainly he will be remembered by colleagues and readers alike for the massive body of columns, articles, film reviews and music criticism he produced over a span of more than three decades (as brilliantly exhibited in this 2000 column).
Messages of sympathy may be sent to his family at: [email protected]